A Corporate Poisoner Two-Steps Out Of Its Toxic Liability

The Lever
Tuesday, May 28, 2024

By Katya Schwenk

A Koch-owned company is exploiting bankruptcy law to avoid responsibility for their asbestos assets and rewrite judicial precedent.

The United States Supreme Court just handed the oil and gas conglomerate Koch Industries — and its subsidiary, Georgia-Pacific, a paper and building material manufacturer — a major victory when it allowed the company to avoid paying damages to people who claim they were poisoned by the company’s products.…

The Supreme Court’s decision in the Georgia-Pacific case comes at a critical moment for this legal strategy, as the courts decide whether to greenlight the Texas two-step and let companies continue to use it to escape liability.

“The courts are split as to whether this is going to be allowed,” said Joanne Doroshow, the executive director of the Center for Justice and Democracy, a legal group that advocates for consumers and victims seeking damages in court from companies like Georgia-Pacific.…

As the courts deliberate, corporate America is lobbying to support the use of the Texas two-step by Georgia-Pacific and others. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce — the biggest lobbying group in the country — intervened to submit amicus briefs in both the Georgia-Pacific case and the ongoing Purdue case, pushing the courts to allow the companies to use bankruptcy court to limit their liability.

The Chamber of Commerce is joined in its support for the Texas two-step by the American Tort Reform Association, which Doroshow described as “basically a front group for major corporations in America that want to take rights away from everyday people and protect corporations from being sued when they commit wrongdoing.”

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